Joyce Sims has been the office manager for REI-Vietnam since its inception. She probably knows the ins and outs of what we do more than anyone. Over 20 years we’ve had a series of directors and part-time assistants but Joyce has been the steady mainstay of the office for all that time. This year Lily Lauer has come aboard and is helping in numerous ways. Lily tells about her work and her family in her own words…
“As the Communications Assistant at REI-VN, I have the opportunity to get to know our staff in Vietnam, our Vietnamese friends, and our volunteer professionals. I rarely meet people face-to-face, but I have the opportunity to highlight some of their stories in our electronic newsletter as well as a new blog that will launch very soon. Because I am responsible for creating Powerpoints, brochures, and other materials, I regularly sift through hundreds of photographs taken in Vietnam by our various visiting professionals. I also coordinate the purchase of airline tickets for our professional teams, which requires many email exchanges and a few phone calls. I get to gather pictures of team members and collect or write their bios as well. Basically, the work I do allows me to become more familiar with and inspired by the many people who share their expertise in Vietnam. That’s a pretty nice perk!
Brian Teel, Director of REI-VN, explained to me that a big reason for hiring me was that I was already in tune with what it means to build a nation by building its people. I have been performing this mission at the grassroots level for the past 17 years as a mom.
I graduated from California State University, Chico with a degree in Business. After just a few years in the workforce, I “retired” to raise our three kids (Jake 17, Josh 15, and Ariel 13). I homeschooled the kids for ten years, and then sent them to public school when the time was right. I currently work part-time, getting off at 2:45 pm so I can pick up my younger kids and be home with them after school.
My husband, John, is the Senior Associate Dean of Students at Colorado College. He’s worked on college campuses for the past 25 years, beginning at his alma mater, the University of Wisconsin, Madison, then on to CSU Chico where we met, The Evergreen State College, and now Colorado College. John grew up in Wisconsin so naturally we are Green Bay Packer fans. A cool side note: Aaron Rodgers, quarterback for the Packers, grew up in Chico, CA, and went to the same church we attended.
My oldest son, Jake, is a fantastic musician. He was recently accepted to the 2013 U.S. Army All-American Marching Band and will receive an all-expense-paid trip to San Antonio, TX, where he will perform on the tenor drum with 124 of the finest musicians in the country at the All-American Bowl. There were more than 1300 nominees from 47 states vying for a position in this national honor band. Jake is the only student from Colorado to be chosen this year.
Josh, a sophomore, is my “techie.” His uncle worked in the film industry and you can see his work in “The Chronicles of Narnia,” one of the many films he’s worked on. He created Aslan! His influence on Josh is obvious. Josh has developed a talent for both media and directing. He is a head editor for his high school’s TV station.
Ariel, my 8th grader, is bright and creative. She is a natural cook and baker whose help I can count on when I’m in a bind. It’s wonderful to be able to call home and ask her to make dinner for me! She decided the culinary arts will not be a career option, however. Instead, she is leaning towards becoming a neonatal nurse. She has plenty of time to explore her options!
It’s a pivotal year for us as a family as we walk through the process of college applications and selection with my oldest. And the other kids are right behind him. It’s very bittersweet! It’s great, though, that I work for an organization whose mission is to invest in people and build them up, and which is right alongside us cheering us on as we hit these major milestones in our kids’ lives.”